House Democrats on Thursday held the first in a planned series of meetings about strategies to use the national reckoning with sexual harassment as a springboard for reform of Capitol Hill's workplace policies.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) convened the meeting as she and other caucus members began calling for the resignation of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) following multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him. As Democrats grapple with the political quandary of trying to seize the high ground on harassment while some of their own members fall prey to misconduct scandals, Pelosi kept the spotlight on potential policy remedies.
“We are at a watershed moment in the nationwide fight against sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation," Pelosi said in a statement. "Members of Congress have a moral duty to the brave women and men coming forward to seize this moment and demonstrate real, effective leadership to foster a climate of respect and dignity in the workplace. We will help transform this moment of truth into an opportunity for action.”
Among the outside attendees at Thursday's meeting were victims' advocates and specialists in survivor compensation, according to a Democratic aide, who added that future meetings will touch on handling of harassment claims in local government as well as the private sector.
A source familiar with the meeting said that the American Association of Justice Trial Lawyers and the National Women's Law Center were among the groups represented. Lawmakers in attendance were Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Bob Brady (D-Pa.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), the source added.
Pelosi also hailed Speier for serving as a chief author of broader legislation overhauling the Hill's harassment system and for helping secure passage of a resolution this week that requires all House members and aides to take anti-harassment training. Among the topics discussed Thursday, Pelosi said, was "possible additions" to Speier's bill. (Politico)